JUST REPORTING THE FACTS

My yellow card. Photo by EJ Lavoie.

My yellow card. Photo by EJ Lavoie.

Another government screw-up?

Of course. That’s normal.

I just got my official census reminder in the mail yesterday (May 12). The yellow card says “Complete it now ̶ it’s the law”.

Right. This is the first official notice I have received from the census police, Statistics Canada. Of course I knew the census form was coming . . . some day . . . this year . . . maybe. In fact, since May 10, TV ads have been reminding Canadians to complete the census form . . . or else. It seems that many people in Canada have actually received forms by mail, and/or received a personal code by mail so that they can fill out the form online.

Not in my community.

The absence of information in my community is normal. Nobody tells us anything. Especially if it’s a government initiative. When I got the yellow card, I asked around. Seems that nobody got a form in the mail. Seems that nobody knows what is happening. Seems that when StatsCan was calling for census-takers months ago, very few heard the request. And even fewer applied for the jobs. Result: people have had to be hired from away.

Another government screw-up?

Of course. That’s normal.

So, when is the official start of the 2016 census? It turns out to be May 10. Unless you already got a form in the mail. Which we didn’t got.

The yellow card, however, the Census Reminder, states “Completion of the census questionnaire is a legal obligation to every household in Canada.”

Legal. Obligation. Which, in governmentese, means if you don’t fill it out, you are screwed. Even if you haven’t got it.

Now, I understand the legal part. And the obligation part. In fact, I agree that it is, and should be, a legal obligation. The census has a long tradition in this country.

The first census in what is now Canada occurred in 1666. Perhaps it was on May 10. I don’t know. I know I missed that one. And as for the one this year on May 10, I missed that one. That I know. Even as I write this, I may be screwed.

The 1666 census asked for age, sex, marital status, and occupation. I didn’t even know they had sex in those days. Actually, they had multiple choices. Well, two, actually. Male or Not-Male.

"Yes, good sir. It just fell off a turnip wagon." Google image.

“Yes, good sir. It just fell off a turnip wagon.” Google image.

In 1871, the new government of the new Canada conducted its first national census. Maybe it was on May 10. I don’t know. I also missed that one.

Sometime later, it became a legal obligation to participate in the national census every five years. The StatsCan site today says “Census information is important for your community and is vital for planning its public services.”

When a politician says something is vital, you can usually safely ignore him or her. When the government says it is vital, you better believe it. After all, they have the legal guns and the obligatory prisons.

For the legal and obligatory census in Canada in 2011, five years ago, the previous government said it was not vital. You could ignore it. In fact, they sent around a legal short form that you were not obligated to fill out. Being good citizens, we ignored it.

For five years, with regard to the national census, StatsCan sat on its hands. It was legally obligated to. Then, a few months ago, a new government told StatsCan to get off its hands. Or some such phrase.

Having less than five months rather than five years to plan and implement a national census, StatsCan leapt into action. They leapt as high as you would expect any government agency to leap on short notice. Even on long notice, the leaps are not remarkable.

So, we knew that a census was coming. We didn’t know when. We knew there were jobs on offer. We didn’t know when. We knew most of us would be getting short forms. We didn’t know how. And we knew some of us would have to fill out long forms. We didn’t know who.

And if we didn’t fill out any census form at all, we were screwed.

As I said, after receiving the yellow card, I asked around. The census commissioner was out of town. But, by accident, I ran into one of the very few local workers employed as a census-taker.

She said that, yes, the May 10 deadline had passed, but no, I was not screwed. Yet.

She said that in my community, a census-taker would be knocking on the door of every household with either a short form or a long form. Sometime. In the next few weeks. That I should not leave the house for the next few weeks.

Okay, she didn’t say that last thing. But the thought occurred to me.

And since I talked to her, I have been basking in sunny thoughts. You see, the previous government believed it should be driven by ideology. It would compel the universe to conform to its preconceived ideas.

Scientific advisors to a previous government. Google image.

Scientific advisors to a previous government. Google image.

But today, folks, today, a new government believes it should be driven by facts, and science, and common sense. A new government believes it should find out all it can about the people it proposes to serve.

I know, I know. It’s a novel idea. Probably will not survive this present government.

Some people in 2016 are questioning the sex choices on the new form. Actually, there are multiple choices. Well, two, actually. Male or Not-Male. Not much change in three and a half centuries. In government. Apparently.

Folks, expect more screw-ups from the present government.

Governments of any stripe can and do screw up.

That’s normal.

But, notice, too, that after a long period of cloudy weather, there is something shiny in the sky.

. . . A ray of hope.

123d Will Rogers infographic-Google image

Google image.

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About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website www.WhiskyJackPublishing.ca
This entry was posted in GREENSTONE, IT REALLY HAPPENED! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to JUST REPORTING THE FACTS

  1. Doug says:

    Awesomest. Municipalities do also

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